New Mexico: Laguna


The Laguna Pueblo is the most recently established and largest Keresan-speaking population of all pueblos in New Mexico, though four subdialects are spoken here. 

Laguna ancestors originally came from the North. The people here were refugees from many tribes that were fleeing the second Spanish conquest in 1699. Refugees from the Hopi, Acoma, Zuni, San Felipe, Zia and Sandia tribes reside here. The six villages within the pueblo also have their own individual processes for ceremonies. 

The Laguna people farmed plots around their villages and many later became herders when the Spanish introduced livestock. The St. Joseph Mission Church in Old Laguna village is considered one of the most beautiful Spanish Mission churches, containing beautiful and historic paintings. This Church is still in use today. 


Surrounded by beautiful mesas at the foothills of Mount Taylor, the Laguna Pueblo is located 45 miles west of Albuquerque. The Pueblo’s six villages – Encinal, Laguna, Mesita, Paguate, Paraje and Seama – span over half a million acres and are home to roughly 4,000 residents out of about 8,000 enrolled tribal members.  

All the villages have a semi-arid landscape and are mainly used for livestock grazing today.  

Maintaining cultural traditions, each community in the pueblo celebrates their own feast day before all coming together to celebrate the annual Feast of St. Joseph. This is followed by a Mass service, traditional dancing and arts and crafts market. 

There was once a large uranium mine on the Laguna Pueblo that served as the predominate employer on the reservation, but today construction, land reclamation and manufacturing are the leading employment. Pottery, other traditional crafts and the tribally operated casino and travel center are also key to economic development. 

The community’s health and wellness department offers a variety of services such as behavioral health, social services and a public health nursing program with community health representatives (CHRs). With a per capita income of roughly $17,000, almost 27% of Laguna Natives live below poverty level.